Studying at a high school in USA
You have seen American high schools in movies, and you will encounter what you've seen: yellow buses, lockers, school cafeterias and cheerleaders. There is one big difference: What you experience will be real and not Hollywood. At school you'll go to classes, join clubs and sports teams, and maybe even attend Prom, which is the yearly school formal. You'll make friends, experience new things, and become more independent and confident. It's better than the movies!
After school activities
After school activities provide an opportunity to make friends, learn about American culture and practice English. You might:
- Try out for the basketball or swimming team
- Join the cheerleading squad
- Play a musical instrument in a band
- Act in a play
- Write stories for the school newspaper
A typical day at an American high school
7.50am Socialize with friends before school begins.
8.30am First class. It could be English, math, history, or something different like photography.
9.30am Second class. Could be science, a foreign language, drama or PE.
10.30am Short break. Chat with your friends as you store books in your locker.
11.00am Perhaps this is your third class of the day, or may be you have free time to do homework in the study hall.
12.00pm It's lunch time! Store books in your locker, visit the school cafeteria and sit with friends before afternoon classes.
3.00pm Classes are over, so enjoy this short break. Eat a snack and socialize with friends before your next commitment.
3.30pm After school activities. If you are on a sports team, this is when your practice will start. If you are in a school play or a band, this is when you will rehearse. If you write for the school newspaper or yearbook, this is when you work.
The American school system
The American school system us divided into "grades". High school consists of the final four grades - 9, 10, 11 and 12 - when students are generally 14 to 18 years old. Depending on your age, current grades in Australia, and when you depart, you will probably be placed into grade 10, 11 or 12.
Know your lingo
High school students are known, from youngest to oldest, as "freshmen", "sophomores", "juniors", and "seniors". It's common for American students to say "freshman year" meaning grade 9 or "junior year" meaning grade 11.
Senior year, grade 12, is an important year for American students. This is when they apply to universities or prepare for future careers. it is also when they are high school leaders. They are captains of sports teams, editors of school newspapers and leading actors in school plays. Junior year is also important because it's a time when students prepare for senior year.
The word "class" can be confusing. It refers to two things. First, it means your grade and everyone in your grade. So when American students say, "My 11th class has 160 people", it means that there are 160 students at their school in grade 11. Secondly class refers to subjects of study. You will hear American students talk about English class or biology class.
Choose your subjects of study or "classes"
All EF High School Year students are required to take English and American History. You will also choose classes that are of particular interest to you. These classes are known as "electives" and may include:
- Computer programming
- Wed design
- Art history
- Foreign language